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The 'Englishman' on poll trail in Rajasthan

By Neelabh Srivastava in Sawai Madhopur
May 05, 2009 15:40 IST
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Tourism websites on Rajasthan claim the state's culture has acquired European flavour since the days of the British Raj, but it takes only one visit to know it's humbug. That's precisely why a retired colonel who speaks English is a novelty to the electorate.

Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, a retired colonel of the Indian Army who is the BJP candidate from the Sawai Madhopur-Tonk LS seat, is flooded with requests from the rural masses to sign off his election speeches in English.

Bainsla, hailing from the socially backward Gujjar community, readily obliges them by putting up a show of his silver-tongued oratorical skills, although it's always about exhorting them to vote for him.

"Ladies and gentlemenÂ… give me your vote for development, prosperity and happiness in your area. I will do the best for you," the 70-year-old retired army Colonel speaks.

"He is our Englishman. We have seen him on television talking in English. Hence we want him to demonstrate it in front of us," Ramesh Gupta, a trader from Ghaas village in Tonk district told PTI.

Colonel saab is persuaded and cajoled everywhere by villagers to at least speak a few words in English. Initially we thought it is a just a request by some people but now it has become an order, Himmat Singh, Bainsla's trusted aide and his poll manager said.

"I do not know what to say... but they are my people. I think if my little speech warms the cockles of their hearts then nothing like it," Bainsla who is pitted against Congress candidate Namo Narayan Meena in the constituency said.

At another campaign rally in the Devli village of Sawai Madhopur villagers ask the Gujjar leader who had earlier led two bloody agitations for the demand of ST status to his community, to speak in the same tone as he "talks to TVwallas (the electronic media)".

"I had taught my wife English too. I would love to see a number of these gathered here to speak the language as good as any other learned person can," Bainsla said during his election rally in the district.

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Neelabh Srivastava in Sawai Madhopur
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